The appearance of St. Louis Cardinals reliever Marc Rzepczynski during Wednesday’s opening night national television broadcast occurred at a key juncture of the 4-1 win over the Miami Marlins.
The left-hander with the long name relieved Fernando Salas with two out in the eighth after first base umpire Angel Hernandez missed an clear double play call at first base that should have ended the inning. “Scrabble” fanned right-handed pinch-hitter Austin Kearns for the third out, earning a hold in the process.
Inspired by Rzepczynski and those who preceded him, this article is the final installment of what evolved into a four-part series celebrating the top Scrabble-scoring Cardinals surnames by decade. The current and 12 previous ten-year periods are represented by a dozen players. Pitcher Pete Vuckovich is the only repeater as the leader in two decades – the 1970’s and 80’s.
All-Time Scrabble leaders by decade, St. Louis Cardinals
We see many names here from the Cardinals all-time All-Scrabble team, but a handful of new names as well, especially in the first three decades of the previous century.
Right-hander Irv Higginbotham pitched in 29 games in 1906, 1908 and 1909. First baseman Fritz Mollwitz, born in Germany, concluded his seven-year major league career with 25 games with the 1919 Cards. Right-hander Walt Huntzinger was winless over 34 innings pitched for the 1926 Cardinals.
The other new name in the all-decade team is Jose Jimenez. The right-handed pitcher is most known for one very eventful game during which the then-25-year-old accomplished a feat that Kyle Lohse chased into the seventh inning on Wednesday in Miami.
On Friday, June 25, 1999 in Phoenix’ Bank One Ballpark, the rookie Jimenez threw a no-hitter against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the process, he bested soon-to-be 1999 Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson. The Big Unit also spun a complete game, allowing just one run on five hits.
Though Jimenez would win just 24 games in parts of seven Major League seasons, he will always top the career 303 game-winner and future Hall of Famer Johnson in one very important stat – 25 Scrabble points to just 17.
Earlier posts in this series:
Scoring the Cardinals Scrabble (current major and minor league players)
Before Rzepczynski came Mierkowicz (all-time Cardinals)
Cardinals all-time All-Scrabble team (by position)